Ok so I know I’ve been a bit of a downer what with my bad service this and really expensive that BUT I now bring you the best dining experience of my life. Behold, Pierre Gagnaire.
Pierre Gagnaire is situated in the Hotel Balzac in a tiny street behind the Champs Elysee. The hotel looks a bit fancy but I probably wouldn’t stay there over somewhere like Le Meurice or Plaza Athenee. The restaurant has its own entrance and you will probably be surprised to see that it is quite a small place with what seems to be a disproportionate amount of staff. What you will see later is that each and every one of these staff members is necessary and you won’t even realise that they are there.
If you’re a lady be prepared to get a menu without prices on it. This means your date is paying. Or something. I ordered a ‘salad’ which turned out to be priced at 125 Euros. Whoopsie! It was so worth it, though – each course has about five different plates (hence the numerous staff members) and you absolutely cannot fault the food.
Dad ordered the lunch menu which was four courses (about 20 plates worth of food – I’m being serious) but the tables were really big and the restaurant quite peaceful so I didn’t want to disturb people around me by passing plates around or getting up to take photos of his food so I can’t share his meal with you.
I can, however show you what mum and I had.
First was the amuse bouche – the greatest amuse bouche of all time. They brought out all these plates and explained the dishes to us before mum and I had time to tell them that we can’t eat seafood. Was this a problem? Absolutely not. They whisked the seafood dishes away and replaced them with equally stunning, beautifully tasting canapés like I’ve never tasted before.
I forgot to mention earlier that the other seamless trick the staff performed was when mum announced she doesn’t drink alcohol. They immediately suggested a ‘juice degustation’ to complement both the amuse bouche and her salad entrée. Three little juices came out: tamarillo and raspberry, passionfruit and orange and red grapefruit. How sweet is that? It was quite simple and failsafe but also really unusual.
Speaking of unusual, the bread at Pierre Gagnaire is definitely worth noting. A gorgeous soft brioche best smothered in citrus butter was a favourite but the chestnut flour bread came in at a close second.
Somehow with some room left in my stomach after that endless amuse bouche I ate this salad. I think I mentioned five plates per course earlier but I must apologise as this one had EIGHT.
Feeling sorry for whoever does the dishes in this plate I moved onto the main course. Even after her veal mishap at Joel Robuchon mum ordered the veal and I ordered beef. Again, I kind of regret my decision as we have such good beef here. It was very moist and the sauce was rich and nurturing but it must have been a high-grade of wagyu or something as the marbling was a bit too full on for me. The accompaniments were out of this world, though.
Oh my god. Time for dessert. Yes, I still wasn’t full. There were only a couple of options for dessert. A choice of one of three soufflés or Le grand dessert de Pierre Gagnaire which is eight more plates worth of food. Mum and I decided to share this one and I’m glad we did. It was huge. Incredible, but huge.
But first, another amuse bouche!
From the start:
Red fruit, white chocolate
Apricot – quite earthy but a really cute texture. Like a little bubble ^_^
Apple tarte tatin – this was some Willy Wonka ish. First you’re like ok cool, apple tart and then you swallow and the taste of whipped cream washes over your mouth and picks up accents of the apple and it’s like a dream.
Now the eight plates full:
My only negative comment would be that I tried to order an iced coffee (long shot, I know) and instead they brought me a cup of black coffee with some ice. LOL! it just turns to water when you put it in the hot coffee, guys!
If that’s the only thing I could find remotely wrong with the place then they’re doing ok.
Pierre Gagnaire was around so I asked the staff if I could have a little photo-op. They rang him and told me he would have a decision for me in ten minutes. I fully expected to have a cloche presented to me where, upon opening, steam would come off a plate of shaved unicorn tusk and form the word “non” but he actually just appeared himself and posed for a photo:
Luckily I was wearing a puffy dress or you’d be able to see those four million dishes poking through my stomach.
So, prices. Yes. For 2 entrees, 2 mains, 1 grand dessert, 1 lunch menu, 3 glasses of champagne, a juice degustation and a couple of glasses of wine the bill came to over 1000 Euro so obviously this is not for everyone. Was it worth that price? Hell-effing-yes. I still think about this meal with extremely fond memories and would go back in a heartbeat. The staff was perfect, the food was flawless and the whole experience is well deserving of its three Michelin star status. If you can – please go.
Bookings need to be made ahead and can only be done so within the month of arrival. It’s a bit of a rigmarole with booking, too. You’ll need to email a form back once you’ve made your initial enquiry and there’s a bit of emailing back and forth but, as I said, very much worth it. Pierre Gagnaire is also closed for a lot of Summer so try to do your research well before you plan your visit.
Has anyone else tried Pierre Gagnaire? What did you think?6 Rue Balzac 75008 Paris, France